Israeli ground forces were ordered into Gaza overnight with the objective of severely debilitating Hamas’ ability to threaten the Jewish state.
While Israel had warned for over a week that it would invade Gaza if Hamas and its allies did not stop firing rockets, it seems what finally forced the decision was Thursday’s failed attempt by a squad of 13 Hamas gunmen to infiltrate southern Israel via a tunnel.
Indeed, as the ground offensive got underway, military officials said the primary mission at present is to find and destroy terrorist tunnels. Right now, tens of thousands of Israeli soldiers are scouring Gaza for the entrances to such tunnels, which are often hidden in civilian homes and populated areas.
One Israeli soldiers was killed and four others were wounded in the opening hours of the incursion. At least 14 Hamas terrorists are said to have been killed.
Israel’s cabinet voted unanimously in favor of a ground offensive after Hamas once against rejected ceasefire proposals offered in Cairo earlier on Thursday.
While Washington signaled tacit support for Israel’s decision, the Obama Administration demanded that the IDF be restricted to “precise actions” against terrorist tunnels and go even further out of its way to avoid civilian casualties.
Of course, that is much easier said than done, given that Hamas is actively trying to get the civilians under its rule killed by Israeli forces.